Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Columns

What are the advantages of laying out text in columns? Are there any? I'm trying to think of some but I'm drawing a blank. I find it annoying having to move my focus down a line every 5 words, and then have to scroll up the entire page every time I get to the bottom of the first column (<12" screen). Then why are columns so prevalent in papers? I need to know.

Update: Found this link to answer some of my questions: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000618.html. The findings agree with my preference since I'm a slow reader.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's a hangover from the era of what's known affectionately by some as "print media" The scrolling cost of an actual physical 'paper' is much less than that of one viewed on a screen.

Martin Davidsson said...

That's true, but even if the costs are less, are they as low as they are for 1-column layouts? Maybe it's personal preference. I think 2-column layouts look better, if anything.

Anonymous said...

The other bonus is that if you're perched behind your desk, eating your lunch and reading journal articles as you often do, the casual observer will note that your eyes seem to be moving across the page at an astounding rate, leading to the presumption that you are digesting the material very very quickly.

Mark Doliner said...

If you just have one really really wide column then you often lose your place when your eyes move down to the next line.

steve said...

i read once that you can read "faster" when text is in narrow columns, because your brain subconsciously pre-processes words in your periphery. in narrow columns, your eyes scan all the words in the next line while you move them to the beginning. this doesn't happen in long columns because you skip most of the words.